The last few decades saw an explosion in the number of Earth observation satellites blasted into orbit. They could offer science a unique view – with detailed, broad, precise and regular measurements. What those satellites saw, and continue to see, is how our planet works – its atmosphere, its plants and forests, its ice and water.
Today we can monitor our weather, and learn about our climate with a global view that would be literally impossible without space technology.
Here in Europe that expertise in Earth observation is now being brought together in the Sentinel fleet of satellites. They consolidate the work of previous missions into a steady and reliable flow of data under the umbrella of Europe’s Copernicus programme.
We talk to Jean-Nöel Thépaut, a meterologist at the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts, and Andrew Shepherd, a professor of Earth observation at the university of Leeds in the UK, about what’s going to happen to Earth in the future.